Friday afternoon started off great, some lunch outdoors along the waterfront at Hula Bay, some Vino in the backyard patio with great friends, and then over to Hyde Park for the Pre-Gaspar festivities. Mateo's new Mexican place was packed, we ended up Valet parking at The Lodge on Howard Ave, and walked around Howard Ave which was hopping by 700pm. We walked over to The Rack on Platt Street for some good eats, have dinner outside, we enjoyed the Lobster/Spinach Dip, with large/soft triangle bread for dipping, then onto the Crunchy Grouper Tacos - Large fried pieces of Grouper in 3 soft flour tortillas, with all the accompaniments, and fries...they were good. And also some Bison Sliders with Cheese/Fries, very juicy and cooked perfectly. It was a great place to start the night.
Then it was a walk across the street to Hyde Park Cafe, where they started a new Friday Night special called "Flip Flop Fridays", and now have a Huge Biergarten with over 60 beers from all over the globe on Tap...also serving Piranellis thin crust pizzas and free wings. The beers are only $10 for a mug and all you can drink from 8-10pm, with a DJ outside in the Biergarten spinning classic dance/alternative tunes from the 80s/90s. It was a fun crowd. Couldn't stay too late, a big day was ahead for Gasparilla.
Saturday morning was very cloudy, breakfast was at a buddies house in Tampa Heights, then we took the #1 Bus (about a dozen of us), to downtown Tampa, first stop was The Hub...it started raining, but by 4pm the parade had reached downtown and we walked over to Taps in Skypoint...some of us watched the parade from Taps outside under the shelter of a tent set up out front, others braved the rain and wind(it stopped raining by 5pm) with Ponchos on and watched the parade up front, catching beads, meeting lots of folks along the parade route. To end the evening, it was an excellent concert by Collective Soul on the Great lawn of the new Curtis Hixon Riverfront Park.
An excellent Saturday night!! And successful Gasparilla Weekend!